Jul 4, 2019

Meet Feeld's LGBTQI+ Team Members

In honour of Pride Month, get to know our LGBTQI+ team members.

It was a special Pride Month for Feeld this year, with our team launching several initiatives to mark the the anniversary of 1969 Stonewall riots:

One of the most valuable things in creating these projects and working towards our mission to normalise sexuality is listening to our LGBTQI+ team members. With London Pride coming up on Saturday 6 July, we wanted to give you a chance to get to know them – you'll spot many of them marching alongside the Feeld Pride float this weekend!

Caolan Howe

Caolan, 26, Irish, Polysexual, Cisgender Male, Part of Growth Team since May 2019

Meet Caolan

What are you most excited for about Pride?

I'm most excited about seeing the Feeld float in real life after several months of hard work and preparation! Plus marching with our stunning drag queens and kings (keep an eye out for the Rihanna lookalike!).

On a more serious note, I am excited to be surrounded by other proud humans on such a momentous occasion, exactly 50 years after the Stonewall riots, and to celebrate how far our community has come – but not forgetting how far we still have to go.

What are you most proud of?

I'm most proud of raising awareness of transgender issues on national TV in memory of my inspiring sister.

Cathy Keen Free To Be

Cathy, 39, British, Pansexual, Cisgender Female, Community Manager since August 2017

Meet Cathy

What does Pride mean to you?

Joining the parade for Pride in London is a huge honour. I’m incredibly grateful to the LGBTQI+ community and their ongoing mission to fight oppression and open conversations around human sexuality.

Because of this, I feel able to talk openly about my pansexuality and have the freedom to be in the multi-partner relationship I share with my husband and female partner. It is something I could not have been honest about a decade ago.

What are you most Proud of?

My community role at Feeld. I’m constantly humbled by the people I meet and the things I learn from them.

Solvi Goard

Sølvi, 29, British, Queer, Trans Woman, Software Engineer since January 2019

Meet Sølvi

What is your best memory of pride?

The first Pride I went to was the same year the film of the same name came out, and so the best bit of the march was the re-united 'Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants' bloc. I was a baby tran, completely stealth at at my work where being out was essentially an unspoken taboo. Arm in arm with my queer family, we were walking down Regent St when I saw a group of my colleagues, and they saw me too. Their faces are etched on my memory; a mix of shock, excitement and confusion. For all the weird feelings of an accidental coming-out to people who could have made my life difficult, it was a huge release, just a moment of pure joy.

What does Pride mean to you?

Over the last couple of years I have felt conflicted about Pride. I feel like the protest element is more important than ever but certain iterations of it, like Manchester Pride, have become more and more expensive, shutting out some of the people who need it most. I've also had to work in the Village during Pride, and being at the sharp end of some of that commercialism completely deflated the celebration entirely. I wanted to feel stronger and empowered but I just felt alienated.

This year, I want to make sure that I experience Pride as a reconnection to the principles that mean the most to me. For me, Pride has to mean solidarity, has to say that none of us are free until all of us are. Pride can offer a glimpse of the kind of emancipated world we desire, one we would arrive at not without struggle. When I came out, there was this impression that, despite everything, 'it gets better'. I think if you look at how people are hurting from austerity, from border regimes, from climate breakdown – it doesn't just get better by default, we have to really fight for it. And so Pride needs to be our time – through joy, rage and compassion – to do that.

P.S. Treat people who work at Pride with respect! Seriously.

Dario Ablanedo

Dario, 33, Spanish, Gay, Male, Development Team since Jan 2017

Meet Dario

What has been your most memorable Pride to date?

In 2017, seeing a march formed of people demanding their friends and partners detained in one of the many immigrant removal centres in and around the UK to be released – mainly asylum seekers from countries that would kill or imprison them upon their return; and afterwards seeing the police parading in full uniform behind them.

What is the funniest sign you've read at Pride?

Not a sign, but seeing police march in uniform at Pride is funny. By all means march, but do so as a person, not as an instrument of control.

What are you most Proud of?

Working in a company that is helping broaden societal norms about sexuality.

What does Pride mean to you?

Pride is a protest. We have come a long way – queer people who came before us have fought for and achieved a lot of the rights that straight (and now even gay) people take for granted. However, that doesn't mean equality has been achieved, nor that Pride should now become a billboard for companies. There needs to be an understanding that there is still a long way to go, especially in terms of trans rights. There is space for celebration and acceptance but above all, we must remember that we stand on the shoulders of very fierce and brave giants.

Jennifer Geacone Cruz

Jen, 40, Puerto Rican, Pansexual, Cis Woman, Comms & Social Media since Nov 2016

Meet Jen

When did you go to your first Pride?

I think I was about 5 or 6 when I went to my first Pride event. I grew up around the LGBTQIA+ community in the New York City area, and during the height of the AIDS crisis too, so the atmosphere at Pride was totally different. There was a sense of celebration of life but more because many people didn't know when it might be cut short. Now there is a sense of celebration that so much has changed, and can still change. Since then I've celebrated Pride in Paris, Tokyo, and Berlin.

Why is Pride Month so important?

Pride month is a time when people galvanise. There are lots of places where Pride has become politicised, which in general is a good thing – we need to make the system take full notice of and fully involve and accept LGBTQIA+ people – but there's still a lot of inner conflict amongst groups that participate. For me, the point of Pride is to come together in all our diversity. The whole community is a study in diversity! In my case, I feel it's my responsibility to participate because it represents how I grew up, the people who shaped me, and who I am as a pansexual Latinx woman and someone who is part of a polycule. If we don't show up to be visible, it's so easy to let the norms around us keep us invisible.

What does Pride mean to you?

Pride is a chance for me to show up for who I am. There are a lot of spaces even within the queer community where people like me are made to feel we don't belong. It can feel as if because I'm a femme-presenting, cis woman who happens to have some male partners that those things cancel out my pansexuality, my queerness, and even my validity as a member of the community. The message of Pride is that you can have identity but still refuse to be boxed in or pigeonholed by external forces into something that you're not. That you can have validity by simply existing as who you are. Sure, society at large needs to work on this on so many levels but the queer community needs to take a hard look at itself too — and remember why we came together to amplify our voices and our message of love and acceptance.

Victor Loux wearing Free To Be t-shirt

Victor, 26, French, Gay, Cis Man, UX Designer since January 2019

Meet Victor

What are you most excited for this Pride Month?

I love seeing our community be themselves openly, and come together to send a message to all those who are closeted and questioning: 'You're not alone!'. This intersection between all groups rarely happens as powerfully as during Pride month, and it makes me smile to see so much mutual support!

Why is Pride Month so important?

Along visibility and fierce celebration, it's also an opportunity to honour all those who have fought for rights and recognition from before Stonewall to the present day, and renew demands for true equality. While cisgender gays have now reached 'administrative equality' against discrimination in the UK, in practice we are still far from a point where everyone is safe in the streets, has equal access to work, housing and healthcare, and fair representation in the media and in politics. This is a very material reality for many people, particularly women, trans people, people of colour, refugees, disabled people and HIV-positive people; and Pride is a way to recognise the work still left to do, and demand change towards a truly inclusive society. 

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